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Founded in 2020, JETX is designing a modular propulsion system with vector thrust mechanisms that can be configured in multiple ways for eVTOL and eSTOL aircraft. JETX claims its vector thrust device can work with electric and non-electric power sources and can be embedded in the airframe to create a hidden propulsion system.
The company has also designed a propulsion system that uses fluidic nozzles with an onboard computer that directs airflow for vertical and forward flight.
Based in Orlando, Florida, JETX emerged onto the scene last year when the company participated in the U.S. Air Force AFWERX HSVTOL Challenge. JETX was one of 35 aerospace companies selected to showcase in Las Vegas, Nevada, in August 2021, alongside major players like General Electric, Rolls-Royce, and Bell.
eVTOL.com spoke with Bryan Welcel and Nelson Salas, the founders of JETX, to learn more about its propulsion technology and platform.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
eVTOL.com: Can you tell us about your background and experience in the aerospace industry?
Bryan Welcel: I am a private pilot and have a passion for design and aerospace. I found great interest in Porsche and Boeing’s partnership to create a new “flying car.” I also researched the propulsion system renderings of eVTOLs and came up with ideas on how I would create a propulsion system.
An idea was to create a propulsion system that vectors without rotating in flight. My passion for creating this new propulsion system was my main focus and from there, I started searching for engineers that can design and create my idea. I found Nelson Salas’ portfolio of designs on the [Vertical Flight Society’s] eVTOL directory. He designed and engineered the SBX and I was highly impressed with his concept.
In the very beginning, we started with EDFs [electric ducted fans] and applied non-rotating vectoring for vertical flight to fluidic thrusters. I also realized that we should also develop and patent a chassis for “flying cars.”
We have gone beyond both and patented a new airflow propulsion system with an onboard computer that directs the airflow from a power source, such as a compressor, to thrusters with fluidic nozzles. Depending on the stage of flight, the computer directs the airflow to fluidic nozzles for vertical or forward flight.
Nelson Salas: I am an aeronautical engineer and designer with over 24 years of experience in the aviation industry. When I graduated, I started working at a company that produced almost all of the electricity for [Venezuela]. This company had an air transport division, and I was the service center maintenance manager for more than 10 years.
They had a fleet of three [fixed-wing] aircraft and 10 helicopters. I started a company called Grugg Group to provide services to an aviation broker company and gained a passion for the eVTOL market. In four years, I created 12 eVTOL concepts. When I met Bryan, I was very excited to start rendering his ideas. We believe that the future for electric aviation is an embedded propulsion system allowing for a clean design that can be accessible for everyone.
eVTOL.com: It is a great accomplishment to be selected as part of the 35 companies to participate in the AFWERX HSVTOL Challenge. What were your experiences and what feedback did you receive about the technology? Why didn’t JETX advance?
Bryan Welcel: We applied and got accepted into the challenge while we were still testing proof-of-concept prototypes. We didn’t have an aircraft proposal that fit all the requirements of the challenge, and we didn’t team up with other companies that could have been beneficial. That was one of the suggestions from the AFWERX team about our proposal.
We have a better chance to advance if we were to enter the challenge again. We would focus on the bladeless technology, which has the potential for quieter flight. JETX’s propulsions can be fully embedded and can be used to create eVTOL stealth aircraft for the military.
eVTOL.com: What is the main focus of the business? Does the company plan to develop propulsion systems for other eVTOL and eSTOL developers?
Bryan Welcel: Yes, that would be the goal. Right now, we are focusing on perfecting the propulsion systems as we now have multiple patents pending. Our ultimate goal is to create an aircraft, and we are working on the funding to start the process. We have created a concept called the Vector, which is an aircraft with our propulsion system. We will continue to create concepts until we have the funds to build one.
eVTOL.com: Where do you stand in terms of funding? How much money have you secured, and what channels are you pursuing to obtain research and development funding?
Bryan Welcel: Until recently, most of our work in the last year was applying for patents. That was our main focus and took up most of our time. Our goal now is to seek funding. Everything is self-funded right now. We applied for funding from NASA and are in the process of applying to other organizations that specialize in funding for this type of business. A company called APEX is helping us gain a presence with the Air Force.
Nelson Salas: We started this year to seek funding from the U.S. government.
eVTOL.com: What makes JETX’s propulsion system unique from other eVTOL propulsion systems?
Bryan Welcel: The power sources do not rotate for vertical flight. This option allows us to embed the propulsion inside a fuselage or vehicle body, which makes it a much better option — not only for aircraft design but also for the fuselage or vehicle body to work as an enclosure to reduce noise. The wings do not tilt. It is similar technology to the F35 or Harrier where the propulsion doesn’t rotate, and the thrust vectors. We keep the thruster flat and smooth allowing it to have a clean design.
Our substantial patents that are pending are for the propulsion systems with multiple configurations, as well as one that covers the chassis. We have several more provisional.
eVTOL.com: How do you plan to test your propulsion system in flight, and are you partnering with any companies for the testing?
Bryan Welcel: We will start developing a framework in drones to test out different configurations in flight. It will have four EDFs, ventrals and flaps. We have multiple prototypes, and we would love to partner with other companies to test them.
eVTOL.com: What is the certification timeline, and which aviation authorities are you working with to obtain certification?
Bryan Welcel: We are not at that point yet as we are still in the concept and experimental stage.
eVTOL.com: Can you tell us more about the chassis that you’re developing?
Bryan Welcel: We have a design for a “flying car.” We created a platform like the chassis of a car. Automakers can develop “flying cars” around the platform, which will bring the cost down. We’ve designed the propulsion system so that it can be reconfigured in many different ways. The idea is not to limit it with one company — multiple companies can build around it.